Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guilt...It's Not Just a River in Egypt...

Guilt.  I have a ton of it.  My therapist actually asked me once if I was Catholic, because I was so good at guilt.  Is guilt a Catholic trait?  I'm Presbyterian.  You know, more of a cafeteria type of religion where you sort of pick and choose your sins and beliefs.  But I don't think guilt was instilled in me at church.  

I tend to feel guilty over stupid things, like not getting enough vegetables on a trip to the grocery store, or walking during part of my "run", for not getting my Christmas cards out by the 1st of December, or for telling someone who likes me that, I'm just not feelin' it.   

Okay, so that last one isn't so ridiculous.  I mean, no one likes to hear that their feelings aren't reciprocated.  And being the one delivering the crushing news?  Ugh!  I think I can feel guilty about that last one without feeling guilty for feeling guilty (therapy, anyone?)

So why is guilt such a driving force in some people's lives and not in others?  I envy those who walk around without the heavy burden of guilt.  They seem to live their lives and not care about what other people think.  I truly wish I could be more like that.  To the woman in the grocery last night who proudly loaded her Totino's Pizza Rolls, Hostess Ding Dongs, two bottles of wine and Tylenol PM (I am not kidding) onto the checkout counter, I say, "Carry on my guilt-free and, obviously self-medicating, crusader!"

Hey, just because I admire her guilt-free attitude doesn't mean I'm not going to judge her...good grief, lady.  Show some self-control! (What?  Thou shalt not judge? Not on the menu today)

I'm sorry, what was I talking about?  Oh yes, guilt.  It's funny, when I find I'm feeling guilty about a recent interaction with another person, I typically discover that I was feeling guilty for something the other person didn't even think twice about.

You know I'm going to have an example, right?

Reintroducing Brad.  Remember Brad?  Brad was the strapping young buck who asked me to come back to his hotel room and when I wouldn't stay the night, never called me again...well, not for another 7 months, anyway.  If you need a refresher, read, "But Who's Keeping Score?"

Brad texted me again a few months ago (he clearly doesn't read my blog) and asked how I'd been.  We exchanged a few pleasantries and then he sent me a "would you consider giving me another chance?" text.  Now, the right thing to do would've been to be an adult and say, "No, I'm still not interested."  But I took the low road that day, my friends - I simply ignored the text.

I can't tell you how much guilt I felt for not responding.

Was he weeping quietly in his room over me?  Did he have to take a leave of absence from work to sift through his feelings and sense of loss?  Had he lost his will to live?  What if he takes his aggression out on his dog?

So I contacted him (via text, of course) just after Thanksgiving.  This was our conversation:

Karen -  Hey Brad!  I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and got to be with your kids.  I'm sending you this random text because I wanted to apologize for not responding to your last text.  That was rude of me.  I guess not responding was easier than telling you I'm just not sure we're in the same place in life right now and I didn't want to waste either of our time.  I'm sorry.

I wasn't sure he would even respond, and it would've been fine had he not.  But he did...

Brad -  I sent you those texts only because of what happened.  Had things gone normal I would have acted normal.  I was so freaked out.  I wanted to be with you again just to show you it works normal.  It was like a Seinfeld episode.

I was sort of confused at this point because I wasn't sure what he meant by "what happened" and "works normal" but I assumed he was talking about a "normal" relationship and not calling after our last date.  So I continued.

Karen -  That makes sense.  My life is kind of like a sitcom...;)  For the record, why were you freaked out? 

Brad - You kinda remind me of Elaine :)  When I woke in the morning it hit me you went through all this effort to be with me, woke up at 5am to drive back and I wasn't even able to please you.  I freaked out.  Hence the texts.

Now I KNOW he's confusing me with someone else!  I truly considered responding with, "Come again?" but I thought that would just be salt in the wound at this point.

Karen -  Do you even know who this is?  Drove back from where?

Brad -  F*ck, who is this?  I got a new phone and lost my contacts.

Karen - Unbelievable

Brad - Is this Karen?

Karen - Yes

Brad - Holy Sh*t

Karen - You're an idiot

Brad - What text did you not respond to?  What are you talking about different places in life?  What place in life are you in?

Karen - I'm at the place in life where I'm not sleeping with people I'm not in relationships with.

Brad - Did we sleep together?

Karen - Just. Wow.

Ummm...I don't think anymore commentary is necessary.  You?

Don't think for one second that I didn't have tremendous guilt while writing the first part of this blog entry.  But as I was reading my texts to type our conversation, my guilt lifted at a rapid pace.

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Damn!